OPEN LETTER: Former Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin tells mayor to stop 'childish, diversionary tactics'
Former Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin lashed out against current Bardstown Mayor John Royalty in a lengthy Facebook post Thursday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Former Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin lashed out against current Bardstown Mayor John Royalty in a lengthy Facebook post Thursday.
The post, titled, "An Open Letter to the Mayor and Community of Bardstown from Retired Chief of Police Rick McCubbin," is over 1,700 words long and blasts the mayor for engaging in what McCubbin called, "childish, diversionary tactics."
The post comes days after Mayor Royalty fired the former assistant chief of the Bardstown Police Department after he was allegedly caught shredding documents belonging to the City of Bardstown. According to a press release, the mayor terminated the employment of Captain / Assistant Chief Thomas R. Roby on Tuesday. Roby was accused of shredding documents and leaving documents related to the Drug Taskforce, as well as Internal Affairs in a trash bin to be shredded. At this time, no charges have been filed.
In his Facebook post, McCubbin blasted the allegations, arguing that they were made in an effort to justify a "restructuring" of the city, and that those behind the accusations are, "attacking the reputations of veteran officers."
"As to the allegations of improper shredding and deleting, it is important to understand that we shred documents daily at the PD and are permitted to clean our computers and papers of personal items," McCubbin wrote. "Did one ever think that perhaps former Captain Roby was doing just that? We also make copies of certain documents for work purposes and in the event of the original being lost or destroyed, all while maintaining the absolute integrity of case files. Has there ever been an open records request where the city's response was "cannot locate, destroyed"? No, I didn’t think so."
He went on to criticize the mayor:
"Though it is clear he was utterly unprepared for the consequences of his actions, as I end I would like to ask the mayor and interim chief to stop the childish, diversionary tactics, to accept what has occurred, and to move on," McCubbin wrote. "You already got what you wanted. You removed from the department those whom you wanted gone and promoted your allies. The drama of your incessant, reality TV show comments and actions are doing nothing to help this great community. You are damaging the reputation of Bardstown, once considered, 'the most beautiful small town in America,' a community dependent upon bourbon tourism revenue and strong community ties. A true leader knows when to stop talking and move forward."
Mayor Royalty was contacted by WDRB's Danielle Lama. He declined to comment on McCubbin's statement.
The entire text of the Open Letter is posted below:
An Open Letter to the Mayor and Community of Bardstown from Retired Chief of Police Rick McCubbin
Upon my announcement that I was retiring, many people made reference to and assumed that I was “leaving mad” due to the restructuring. I replied that no, that within itself did not make me angry. Though I was extremely disappointed in the politics involved, I have been in this game long enough to understand politics. I could see the writing on the wall and exactly what was happening. As I have stated, I did not support it nor agree with it, nor how it was done. What has angered me is the complete ignorance that has followed.
When the restructuring was announced and the dust settled from the initial shock, I realized that the mayor would steadfastly hold his decision to carry out this move regardless of our conversations. This was a complete farce and leaderless move. I met with him and those involved to discern how I could work with this structure to continue the operation of the police department, and I realized quickly that I was playing a real life game of “mommy versus daddy”; if dad said no, maybe mom will say yes. The mayor tried to reduce me to a figurehead. It was obviously time for me to go as I could see that I was being fazed out of the master plan.
Still, none of the insanity angered me. What angered me then and still does is the ever present plethora of excuses and reasons, the multitude of which further illustrate their illegitimacy. When he first announced his restructuring, the mayor was staunch that he was right and held his position, but providing no reason for the change. After a week of backlash from the department and community, a poorly developed Plan B went into effect and it suddenly became an issue of “it was needed due to_____” (fill in the blank). Now, and only now, after that “storm” that I warned him about landed ground-zero do we hear other excuses.
When only three to five people see nothing wrong with what has occurred but thousands of others do, it is impossible that so many are wrong while a handful is right. In response, this community is witnessing an avalanche of community leaders coming forward to seek office: newcomers, former mayors, business owners, and an attorney. Are all of these people fools as well?
Now that the masterminds of this restructuring are scrounging to justify their actions, they are attacking the reputations of veteran officers. While I do not know what all allegations are stemming from the bowels of City Hall, I can state that the internal affairs files under discussion were in fact handed to the proper people by me. As to the allegations of improper shredding and deleting, it is important to understand that we shred documents daily at the PD and are permitted to clean our computers and papers of personal items. Did one ever think that perhaps former Captain Roby was doing just that? We also make copies of certain documents for work purposes and in the event of the original being lost or destroyed, all while maintaining the absolute integrity of case files. Has there ever been an open records request where the city’s response was “cannot locate, destroyed”? No, I didn’t think so.
We are now at a juncture where the true lack of leadership is glaring brightly as we see a high school bully, backed in a corner, use whatever means necessary to make himself look good and justified at the cost of others. This is textbook, folks. I have been contacted by members of the media after they submitted open record requests on officers who most did not even know worked at the PD (which indicates, obviously, that the media were given direction on these) to “illustrate a lack of leadership when it involves discipline.” To date, they’ve found no evidence to support this. An experienced, educated leader would recognize a chief who simply cared for the well-being of his officers, and handled discipline when it was brought before him, not one who goes out looking for reasons to chastise his officers.
The mayor and interim chief are introducing new complaints neither my mayor nor officers brought to my attention in my tenure as chief. The timing and the multitude of varying explanations reveal their claims lack credibility. Many have told me that everything possible is being done to smear my name and my professional reputation in order to make the restructuring my fault so that this “new and improved” circle of leadership is cast as “God-sent” to upright a “sinking” ship. Sources even passed along that they heard one woman state that “we need to dig up some dirt on McCubbin.” This is desperation at its finest.
Many wanted to know why I have remained rather quiet on the restructuring and the circus that followed. Many years ago an old investigator told me that “silence is golden when talking to the accused.” In other words, those who are guilty or have done wrong will talk nonstop, say foolish things, and attempt to justify or alibi themselves. By listening to this old investigator and staying quiet, I have waited for my opportunity to point out exactly what he meant. And man, did he have it right! Each day offered the mayor a new opportunity to illustrate the depths of his ignorance.
Apparently, according to some, I did not know what I was doing and, for example, was “too easy” when it came to discipline of officers. I think there are few who would argue that. I have had several members of the community tell me that any time the mayor has the bully pulpit or stage, the conversation goes to “why I had to_____” (fill in the blank). And apparently they are saying they have only two years to “fix this mess” of what I left behind. Interesting. No one used the term “mess” to describe the department until just now. This is not a coincidence.
Perhaps the saddest, most unprofessional message that many in the community have passed along to me is that the mayor has stated the department is corrupt. First, most have no idea what that could possibly refer to, so allow me to step in to my teacher mode: “corrupt” means “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.” Corrupt in what way? No one has achieved personal gain as a result of employment at the department. No one has made any allegation of a single incident or action connected to this alleged corruption. This is simply yet another diversionary tactic to attempt to justify the restructuring. An incredibly sad one at that. That the mayor would slam an entire department to try to repair his own reputation is galling. No one who knocks down others in a feeble attempt to build himself up is a leader.
I have never been advised by the mayor, to whom I as chief directly answered, that I needed to address any issue, to change directions, or even to simply fix something. For a year all I heard from the mayor and the community was what a great job the men and women of the Bardstown Police Department were doing patrolling beats, answering calls, being responsive to community needs, solving crimes, and adjudicating cases. Never, not once, did I hear anything negative from the mayor’s office. All I heard was to “keep up the great work.” He had previously cheered my professional accolades and supported my leadership.
This positive assessment is highlighted in the mayor’s initial statements after the restructuring about me and to me; “stay on,” “do not retire,” and “I want you to be a part of this” (see TV interviews and print for full quotes). It would appear then that at that time, just a few weeks ago, it apparently did not matter to the mayor if the department was corrupt or if there were other issues that I was not addressing; it all appeared to be going in the right direction, until the backlash. IF any of this were actually true, the mayor would have removed me. A police chief works under and answers directly to the mayor; therefore, an experienced, effective leader would know to remove the chief responsible for the department rather than shuffle those under him. I was not a target until now, when they are doing damage control. The mayor simply wanted to promote a friend and rid himself of an old adversary. Talk about corrupt.
Though it is clear he was utterly unprepared for the consequences of his actions, as I end I would like to ask the mayor and interim chief to stop the childish, diversionary tactics, to accept what has occurred, and to move on. You already got what you wanted. You removed from the department those whom you wanted gone and promoted your allies. The drama of your incessant, reality TV show comments and actions are doing nothing to help this great community. You are damaging the reputation of Bardstown, once considered “the most beautiful small town in America,” a community dependent upon bourbon tourism revenue and strong community ties. A true leader knows when to stop talking and move forward.
I no longer have professional ties to this community; however, I have a great deal of love and respect for it, and I urge you to stop. Stop with the pettiness and be the mayor, not the playground boy who felt picked on and is hell-bent on getting revenge. You and your interim chief have two years left, use them wisely. Convince businesses why they should relocate to this great town, and use tax incentives or whatever you can to recruit commerce for Bardstown. Convince families this is where they should live, that Bardstown is a great place to call home. Work on getting the needs of the community brought to the attention of the city council. Work on the rapidly eroding cash reserve, even while many understand there are simply things that must increase and move forward as a community grows. Use your platform to lead, not to divide and make excuses. You are the mayor. Now be one.
That concludes the text of McCubbin's open letter.
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